Majeeda Khan graduated from the Paralegal program in 2017, and now works at Smart & Biggar as a legal assistant in the litigation department
Majeeda had graduated from university, and was working in retail, when she decided she needed a new career plan. She wasn't finding work in her field of study, and wanted a job that would be challenging, interesting, and truly helpful to others.
That's when she paid a visit to the Herzing Ottawa campus in the St. Laurent mall, and began asking about available training programs. She'd never even considered becoming a paralegal, but after looking into the field, she realized it was a perfect fit for her natural skills and professional goals.
After that, everything fell into place.
We chatted with Majeeda this week to get her opinion of the Paralegal program, and see what she's up to now. Turns out she is working at the biggest, most successful intellectual property law firm in Canada!
This is such a great success story. Read on for all the details.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, Majeeda. What were you doing before you decided to go back to school?
Majeeda: My name is Majeeda Khan and I am originally from Ottawa. Before I decided to go back to school, I was working in customer service/retail at the Rideau Centre. I was also volunteering at the Ottawa Distress Centre.
Before that, I was studying at the University of Ottawa. I graduated in 2014 with a double major in Psychology and Art History. After two years of working, I decided to go back to school, and enroll in the Paralegal program at Herzing.
I graduated with Honours and passed the paralegal licensing exam.
Q: What inspired you to choose Paralegal training? Have you always been interested in law?
Majeeda: I wasn't always interested in law. In fact, I took one elective criminology course during my undergrad, and didn't really like it. I couldn't grasp all the complex legal theory and concepts.
It was through volunteering that I first became inspired to pursue paralegal training. I did volunteer work with a crisis centre for two years, providing emotional and psychological support to callers.
I would also give out referrals for legal support services. I had limited background in law, but was fascinated by all the legal supports we have available in our communities. I saw first-hand that access to these services could really change a person's life.
Q: How did you make the decision to enroll at Herzing? What was that process like for you?
Majeeda: I was walking through St. Laurent mall one day in the summer, and saw Herzing College. I walked in and spoke to an advisor to learn more about the school and the programs they offer.
I decided to do some research and not make a decision right away. The advisor was great at letting me know about the Paralegal program. But, I had to research what a paralegal was. I really had no idea what the profession involved.
So, I gave it some thought, did my research, and decided to enroll for the fall semester.
Q: How would you rate the paralegal program overall? How was the instructor, course material, and your experience at the college?
Majeeda: My experience at Herzing was great! I would rate the Paralegal program a 9/10. I had 3 different instructors for the program, and each of them was knowledgeable and extremely helpful.
The course material was in-depth, but manageable. I found the textbooks not intimidating and quite readable. We were always learning something new, and were tested every second week to ensure we understood and stayed on track.
The program is fast-paced, but we always had time to work on assignments in class. I was able to juggle school, work, and volunteering...I only missed one class during the whole 12 months.
Q: What about your classmates? Were they from all age groups and backgrounds? Did you work together well?
Majeeda: Yes, my classmates were from all age groups and backgrounds. We ranged from approximately 19 years old to 50 years old!
I would see the same students every Monday to Friday for four hours a day. This allowed us to get to know each other. Several of my classmates were married and had children.
Being at a private college felt completely different than what I experienced during university. We had a lot of group discussions, mock trials, and several other teamwork tasks. It felt a lot more hands-on than university.
Q: The Paralegal program is quite fast-paced. How did you handle the work load?
Majeeda: Yes, the program is definitely fast paced. I found a couple of courses challenging, such as Accounting and Employment Law. But I still did well in those courses because I worked hard on the assignments, and studied for my exams.
Whenever I had questions, I would ask the instructor for clarification and examples. They were always available to help.
Since I was working two part-time jobs and volunteering, I didn't have much time to study for my exams. I would get distracted quickly and not want to go home and study. But, I had to learn how to prioritize my time.
In the end, it wasn't too difficult for me, because I'd been through university and had juggled several responsibilities during that time. I'd already built up those study and time management skills.
The Paralegal program pushed me to use those skills again, so I could balance the workload with everything else I was doing.
Q: What was the best part of the program for you? What did you find most rewarding?
Majeeda: My favourite part of paralegal training was working with classmates on group projects. I really learned a lot from the others. Getting their point of view on certain topics was helpful for me to understand the legal concepts.
The most rewarding part for me was seeing all my hard work pay off with good grades!
Q: Can you tell us where you did your internship? What was it like?
Majeeda: I did my internship at Langevin Morris Smith LLP. I performed a wide range of tasks for many of the lawyers. I did several Court runs, where I filed documents and received information to relay to law clerks. I also observed bail hearings and the prison cells.
I created pre-bills for clients using a software called PC Law, which I learned about during my paralegal studies. I also transcribed at a trial by taking thorough notes for the defense lawyer.
I performed legal research, such as looking for case law for lawyers to use for their clients. I performed conflict checks and assisted lawyers with disclosure. I really learned a lot during the four-week internship.
Q: Where are you working now? Can you describe a typical day, and which type of law you're focusing on?
Majeeda: I am currently working at Smart & Biggar, Canada's largest, highest-ranked intellectual property firm. I am an intellectual property clerk at the moment; however, I am transitioning into a new role as a legal assistant for the litigation department.
In my new role, I'll be assisting five lawyers...and I'm really excited to get started. Intellectual property is something new to me, but my paralegal background does help when it comes to understanding what is going on in the litigation files.
Right now, my day-to-day work involves examining approval notices for trademarks, checking for errors and missing information. I draft correspondence to send to the trademark office, and report to the client on the status of their trademark(s).
I also examine registration fee notices, and the payment of registration fees. I generate bills and send out invoices to the client.
Q: How long did it take you to find work after graduation?
Majeeda: It didn't take me long to find work after graduation. Around two and a half months after finishing the Paralegal program, I got offers for employment and started my first legal job at a boutique firm.
I applied through agencies which helped me find employment faster. But, I also made some applications on my own, searching for legal job postings on Indeed.
During my employment search, I was volunteering at the Ottawa Courthouse at Pro Bono Law Help. I found volunteering gave me a lot of experience, which helped build up my resume and made my job search easier.
I'm so happy that I decided to enroll in the Paralegal program at Herzing College, because now I have my career headed in the right direction!
Q: How does someone know they'd make a good paralegal? In your opinion, what basic qualities are most important?
Majeeda: It's simple. To become a paralegal, you need confidence, respect for others, the ability to organize your work/agenda, and a willingness to work hard.
Thanks so much, Majeeda! We really appreciate your feedback on the program, and love hearing about your success at Smart & Biggar. We wish you a smooth transition into your new role with the litigation team.
Interested in learning more about the paralegal program?
Herzing College offers a 12-month, accredited Paralegal diploma program at the Ottawa campus. Training includes a guaranteed 4-week internship at a local law firm (or legal department).
Coursework prepares students to challenge the paralegal licensing exam delivered by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Wondering if this career path is right for you? Click below to get more information about Herzing's Paralegal program.
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